Is It Possible To Forgive And Forget?

Is It Possible To Forgive And Forget? September 3, 2018

It may not be easy, but we can forgive others, but what about forgetting? What do we do with that?

Forgive and Forgiveness

The Bible teaches us to forgive others as we have been forgiven, but what about forgetting what others have done to us? What happens when others won’t forgive us? And, have they really forgiven you if they keep bringing it up? To be human is to probably have offended someone at one time or another. If you’re breathing, you’ve probably angered someone or offended someone…and you may not have even realized it! Perhaps it wasn’t intentional, but things happen. Bad timing; times when we’re tired, hungry, or frustrated can leave us like an open wound, and someone’s words may be like pouring salt on it, but we know we must forgive others, as God has forgiven us. Jesus taught that “if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15). I don’t believe Jesus’ intent was to make it sound like you’re going to hell if you don’t forgive others, but the fact that you (and I) have been forgiven exponentially more than we could ever forgive others. If we don’t forgive, it shows that we don’t fully comprehend the grace of God that’s been given to us. We could never, in a hundred lifetimes, rack up more sins against other people than we ever could with God, and yet that’s why Jesus came. He came to give His own life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), so our prayer to God must be to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12). The seems to be conditional as it says, “as we also have forgiven our debtors,” so if we are bearing grudges, and refusing to forgive others, even when they ask for it, then God may not hear our own prayers of forgiveness.

Comprehending Forgiveness

I love Romans 5:6-10 when I feel a spirit of anger against someone. I remember that God loved us first, and loved us while we were wicked, ungodly enemies of God. Just as powerful is Jesus’ godly prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). In that prayer, and in the grace of God, we see God’s kindness toward us; we see His tenderheartedness; we see His forgiveness, so we should also “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32). The Apostle Paul gives us an example of kindness, tenderhearted-ness, and forgiveness, and it was just “as God in Christ forgave you” and me. It’s not exactly a conditional statement, but a statement that seems to tell us we ought to be as forgiving of others as God has been toward us. Why would we not forgive others when we’ve been forgiven so much more? God Himself has said, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Heb 8:12), but we often forgive and then try to resurrect it again to others. God buries our sins into the ocean of forgetfulness, so why would we ever go fishing in other people’s waters for what God has already buried at sea? A forgiving person will be “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:13).

Unlimited Forgiveness

To have unlimited forgiveness is just too amazing to describe, but this doesn’t mean we can sin all we want. If you sin all you want, you may not be saved because the saved person recoils as sin, and like Paul, they hate the things that they do, and sometimes don’t do the things they know they ought to do (Rom 7:19). We are forgiven, and I think it’s best to come for a daily cleansing, but a person who’s received grace doesn’t abuse grace, and make it a license to sin. Anyone who lives that way and practices unrighteousness on a daily basis is not saved at all (1 John 3). Jesus told the Apostle Peter that it wasn’t seven times that he had to forgive his brother, but seventy times seven, or an infinite number of times (Matt 18:21-22). Jesus wasn’t trying to teach Peter math. He only wanted Peter (and us) to learn that forgiveness should not have limits, so “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).


I wished I could forget past grievances like I forget my password or where my keys are at, but I have forgiven them. I didn’t wait till I felt like it, or it’d be a long wait. I choose to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice. We can and should forgive others, but I don’t think it’s humanly possible to forget. It’s like when you try not to think about something, and then that’s all you think about. It’s not humanly possible to forget the things people have done to us, but it is possible for us to forgive them. If you find it hard to forgive and forget, remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt 5:7), and David’s psalm about “the one whose transgression is forgiven” and “whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity” (Psalm 32:1-2). You can also re-read these Bible verses about forgiveness. For me, it’s realizing that God has forgiven “the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD” (Psalm 25:7)! For me, that makes it easier to forgive, but even if it’s not easy, I chose to forgive.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    So jack, should the 1000+ victims of abuse at the hands of priests like yourself forgive their abusers?

    Seems your “god” has issues with “forgiveness” himself eh jack?

    Romans 12:19
    Verse Concepts
    Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

    Genesis 4:15
    Verse Concepts
    So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold ” And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

    Exodus 21:23-25
    “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

    AND!!!….Your very own invisible undetectable “god” HIMSELF is unwilling to forgive the most petty transgression of them all!! Belief in NONSENSE!! Your overlord is unwilling or incapable of FORGIVING the oh so horrible “sin” of blasphemy….name calling, disbelief in the ridiculous is UNFORGIVABLE by even your make believe deity jack! What say ye? Oh, that’s right….you say nothing because you’re a coward that’s terrified of me and the TRUTH!

    Why didn’t your make believe invisible friend FORGIVE the entire human race instead of flooding the planet killing every living thing including the unborn? Why is your psychotic mass murdering deity coming back to finish the job? Where’s the forgiveness jack?

    See how truly warped your mind is yet?

    Leviticus 24:17-21
    ‘If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death. ‘The one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life. ‘If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him:

    2 Kings 9:7
    Verse Concepts
    ‘You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.

    There’s more jack but you’ve torn those pages out haven’t you?

    • Dorothy Dean

      Pud, You sound angry, no peace in that. Sorry for you. Will pray for you. I dont have all the answers. But I do know peace.Now we see thru a glass darkly. Relax and let God forgive you and give you peace.

      • pud

        Not angry at all…I have a great life! It is I who is sorry for you…Sorry you’re so stupid, gullible, credulous and lacking in critical thinking skills that you’ve been indoctrinated into this mindless cult. I doubt that you have any answers but what’s worse is that you, and people like you, don’t want answers…you want to believe what you want to believe. You don’t “know peace” you’ve deluded yourself into believing in a fantasy, a made up fictional reality to soothe your anxieties….some of us care more about what’s true than what feels good.

        Pray your brains out…won’t make anything happen…more fantasy nonsense

        Demonstrate that any “god” has ever existed…!

        My life is just fine thank you

        • Dorothy Dean

          Just read this. Sorry but your truth still makes you sound angry. No peace or happiness in the way you sound. You may think I am stupid but that does not make it true. You say your life is fine, why sound angry for poor stupid people. Just let us be Happy ,God Bless you anyhow.

        • Dorothy Dean

          Wel l if the peace of mind I have is stupid ,you may consider me so. But, you really dont know me to make that judgement. In the end it not important what you think of me or I of you, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he” Enjoy your life.

          • pud

            Well you don’t have “peace of mind” when you live under constant threat of hellfire. You’re a prisoner of your own making, imagination, indoctrination and delusions.

            Lobotomies provide “peace of mind” too.

          • pud

            The “heart” pumps blood it doesn’t do any “thinking” The religious don’t do any thinking either. “Peace of mind” and thinking are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to believe in Santa Claus to have “peace of mind” Knowing the truth is far far more satisfying than living a lie, a delusion a grown up fantasy. I would argue that self delusion and thinking reality is some version of a fable is far more destructive and causes far less “peace of mind” than embracing reality

  • Glory

    God says there is no reasoning with a fool so that frees Christians up to really buckle down and study to be God’s approved man.

    Don’t let the evil examples of people who wanted to stay evil affect your social and spiritual process. Focus on the examples of success. Like Jesus Christ.

    Read “The Fool: Proverbs 26:1-11” for the godly details.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you.

  • Guestie

    “”if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15). I don’t believe Jesus’ intent was to make it sound like you’re going to hell if you don’t forgive others,”

    Why don’t you believe that was Jesus’ intent? The plain meaning of the text is quite clear. You seem to be adding to the Bible by imputing a different meaning to Jesus’ words.

    • Glory

      Some Christians believe hell is not to be found in the Bible if you check the actual ancient language word meanings. But the pastor means something else by his statement above because he believes in hell.

      • Guestie

        The blogger is suggesting that Jesus says one can go to heaven without the Father’s forgiveness of sins. Or that heaven and hell are not the only alternatives.

        • Glory

          Maybe the pastor will clarify.

        • Jack Wellman

          Hello Guestie. Here is one of the best explanations of this verse that I have found & it agrees with most theologians like R.C. Sproul (Ligonier Ministries), Charles Spurgeon, and Dr. John MacArthur. Please read:

          • Guestie

            So, what happens to you when you refuse to forgive others?

          • Jack Wellman

            Thank you Guestie. I think the article does an excellent job explaing it. How do you think it would go aroudn my house if I refused to apologize when I’m in the wrong or refuse to forgive my wife for things she’d done? Our marriage or relationship remains unchanged, but our fellowship has been damaged. Please read the Got Questions for more on this. They have an excellent answer to your question.

          • Guestie

            I read the article. It states that there are no long lasting consequences to not forgiving others. Essentially, God doesn’t care all that much. Which strikes me as a fairly lousy answer.

    • Jack Wellman

      so you believe if you refuse to forgive someone, even for one offense, then you go to hell. Wow. Content is king. It is right at the end of the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray. By this is meant, that when a man asks forgiveness, we are cordially and forever to pardon the offence; we are to declare our willingness to forgive him. If he does not ask forgiveness, yet we are still to treat him kindly; not to harbor malice, not to speak ill of him, to be ready to do him good, and be always prepared to declare him forgiven when he asks it, and if we are not ready and willing to forgive him; we are assured that God will not forgive us and that will not go well.

      • Guestie

        “…if we are not ready and willing to forgive him; we are assured that God will not forgive us and that will not go well.”

        So you are changing your position?

  • Ellen EJ Lefavour

    I agree with Guestie, as I do believe Jesus makes it very clear that we must forgive — it is not an optional thing if we are truly saved. Also on forgetting, I personally have found that when I have truly forgiven someone (even major injustices and wrongs such as rape, physical abuse, etc.), I also forget. That is not to say I can’t call back up the memory of the events, but in general, they never cross my mind — they are forgotten. I feel that is one way of knowing that we have truly forgiven.

    • Jack Wellman

      Very good account of forgetting. That was helpful. Thank you Ellen.

    • pud

      Demonstrate that any character name of “jesus” ever existed. If you prove that, which you can’t then demonstrate his divinity, the truth of what he allegedly said and who was it who followed him around with a notebook copying down exactly what he said EVEN WHEN HE WAS ENTIRELY ALONE!